Congressman Jared Huffman

Representing the 2nd District of California

California Congress Members Respond to National Review Story on California Drought, Delta Smelt

Jan 22, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Northern California Congress Members Jared Huffman (CA-2), Mike Thompson (CA-5), George Miller (CA-11), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi (CA-3) released the following statement today in response to the National Review's story on the California drought. The story on California's drought was also discussed on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"The California drought, now in its third and most severe year, cannot be oversimplified as farmers versus fish. It is a very real challenge that is having serious impacts on farmers, families and businesses across the entire state. However, taking more water from the Bay Delta is not the answer and would lead to even greater problems that go far beyond the survival of the endangered salmon and delta smelt.

"This is not an issue of putting environmental protections above the well-being of people as the story alleges. The health of the Bay Delta is integral to the Northern California economy. It supports thousands of jobs in farming, fishing and tourism. Pumping more water south of the delta puts these jobs at risk and will cause additional economic hardships across our state.

"Moreover, the author's assertion that environmental regulations to protect delta smelt, salmon, and other endangered wildlife populations are limiting water supplies for agricultural use is based on a misunderstanding of federal law. In fact, state regulators agree that the rules have little effect on the level of water exports in extremely dry years such as this. Simply put, there isn't enough water to export in the first place. Drought, not the Endangered Species Act, is the cause of water supply shortages.

“California is now on pace for the driest year in our history as a state. Despite the very real risk of extended dry conditions, agriculture interests in the valley planted permanent tree crops that require a steady supply of water that is just not available. Ultimately, the only solution that works for the entire state is a statewide plan to generate new water.

"California's farmers help feed our country and making sure they have a reliable water supply is an important concern to everyone. That's why we need to invest in things like water recycling, conservation, and storage. By making these investments, we can create millions of gallons of new water, help farmers better plan, and create good jobs while not risking the health of the bay delta and the families, farmers and small businesses who depend on it for their livelihoods."